Coatings – why do we use them in our horse feed?
Have you ever wondered why we use coatings on our fibre feeds? Well, read on to find out!
Coatings help ensure your horse gets the natural vitamins and minerals it contains
The most important reason is that the alfalfa leaves become very prone to shattering once they are dried and, if we don’t try to “stick” them to the stems, they can all end up at the bottom of the bag, making the product look dusty. The leaves are the most nutritious part and it is essential that we include them in the feeds to ensure horses and ponies get all the natural vitamins and minerals that alfalfa contains.
Coatings help to improve the palatability of the feed
Improving palatability is another reason we use coatings. When Alfa-A Original was launched, molasses was added to provide a little bit of sweetness because alfalfa can be quite bitter on its own. Although many people are now concerned about sugar in their horses’ diets, it is important to remember that, even with molasses added, the sugar content of Alfa-A Original is still the same as a typical grass hay, at 10%.
Rape seed oil is non-GM
Obviously, there are some horses and ponies that require as low-sugar a diet as possible, such as those prone to laminitis, so we have a range of products that are molasses-free. We still need to add a coating, so we use oil. In 2013, we made the change from soya oil to rape seed oil, which was done for a number of reasons. The supply of non-GM soya oil was no longer reliable and, because we have products approved by The Laminitis Trust and supply organic holdings, we needed to maintain our non-GM status. We also felt that we needed to move away from oils that were directly contributing to the destruction of important rain forests around the world, so we chose rape seed oil, which is grown in the UK.
Oil coatings ensure feeds are very low in sugar
Where oil is used as a coating, the product is very low in sugar, with Hi-Fi Molasses Free, for example, containing only 2.5% sugar, which is naturally occurring in the alfalfa and straw. This is about 10 times less than the sugar level found in a low-energy mix.
When high levels of oil are added, it provides lots of calories in a slow-release form. This is why Alfa-A Oil contains as much energy as a competition or conditioning mix but can be fed, if necessary, to a horse on box rest because it is so safe.
For more information, telephone the Dengie Feedline on 0845 345 5115.